The Tale of UFC 279: Nate Diaz v. Tony Ferguson
Sep 10, 2022, 7:00 AM | Updated: Sep 11, 2022, 7:53 am
(Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
In a matter of hours, UFC 279 completely flipped on its head.
The result: One of the most dramatic Pay-Per-Views in recent memory.
In a wild turn of events, Stockton native Nate Diaz will now face UFC legend, Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson in the main event of Saturday’s Main Card.
Joining them on said card is one of the UFC’s rising stars in Khamzat Chimaev. He’ll be facing off against Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland in a catchweight bout at 180 pounds (we’ll get to that in a moment).
The third and final fight to get moved around is a catchweight bout between Ferguson’s former opponent, Li “The Leech” Jingliang and Holland’s former opponent, Daniel “D-Rod” Rodriguez.
THE NEW #UFC279 CARD IS OFFICIAL 💥 pic.twitter.com/oxMl3XXVqW
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 9, 2022
Confused yet? Great, let’s get to the real drama.
How We Got Here
All six fighters were scheduled to face one another more than 48 hours.
Then disaster struck.
Right before the UFC 279 press conference was about to get underway Thursday, Holland and Chimaev’s camps got into it backstage, causing a reported all-time brawl. Having his own score to settle with the Swede, Diaz’s camp got into in the altercation, throwing bottles and other miscellaneous things at the opposition.
Eventually getting the brawl under control, UFC president Dana White called off the press conference due to safety concerns.
The beef between Holland and Chimaev was the catalyst of the Thursday’s event being canceled, but the feud didn’t start there.
Wednesday was when the match was lit.
Asked about the “gangsters” of the UFC, Holland put it on record that he thought the UFC’s new bad boy was all hype and no action.
Kevin Holland thinks Khamzat Chimaev is fake pic.twitter.com/U5Og6s8LBk
— Kevin 11 (@K3vin11Awesome) September 8, 2022
“I feel like he likes the f***ing media. He only does this extra wannabe street s*** when the media is around. Other than that, he doesn’t do it. So, yeah. When you guys aren’t around he wants to do fist bumps and be your best friend. When you guys are around then all of a sudden he’s like ‘argh, I’ll rip your f***ing head off’,” Holland said at media day Wednesday.
Well those comments didn’t go over well with Chimaev, providing enough sparks to burn the whole damn stage down.
More info coming in.
Khamzat Chimaev push kicked Holland in the chest. Chimaev was reacting to things Holland has said recently and it set him off, I’m told. Once that was broken up the Chimaev-Diaz part of the story popped off and then the bottles started flying. https://t.co/WGpbskiQz7
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 9, 2022
If that wasn’t enough drama, Friday was the cherry on top.
Coming into the day, rumors swirled that the Swede had been close to 10 pounds overweight the night before.
Those rumors were true.
News broke during weigh-ins that Chimaev was in serious jeopardy of missing the cut, leaving the MMA world scrambling for answers. Those were given shortly after, with the Swede walking to the scale and weighing it at 178.5 pounds. A whopping 7.5 lbs over the 171 threshold.
His response after the fact was not great either, looking at the reporters with a smirk, saying “not that bad” while flipping the camera off.
Yeah not great.
Left scrambling, White and the UFC hierarchy quickly got negotiations underway, hoping to save this card from complete cancellation. They succeeded.
Revealing the news on ESPN’s Instagram Live, White annoyed that all fighters would be in the octagon Saturday, facing each other’s opponent. Additionally, both the main event and co-main will be five round fights, giving the fans exactly what they wanted.
Nathan Diaz x Tony Ferguson
Kevin Holland x Khamzat Chimaev
Li Jingliang x Daniel Rodriguez
is your new UFC 279 lineup.
What a day.
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 9, 2022
Crisis averted, let’s get to the action.
Khamzat Chimaev (11-0) v. Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland (23-7, 1 NC) Catchweight
The first of the two five-round bouts is an absolutely war waiting to happen.
Born out of the deepest regions of bad blood, Khamzat and Trailblazer do not like one another, plain and simple. The former doesn’t respect anyone but throw in Holland (who is a gangster in his own right) and you have two fighters who swing to put the lights out.
The biggest test for Holland since facing 2021, he’ll need to focus on stopping the Swede’s wrestling in this one, able to corral you for the duration of a round. He did this against fellow card member Jingliang less than a year ago, picking him up while talking to a ringside White simultaneously.
Khamzat casually talking to Dana mid-fight 🗣
[ @KChimaev | #UFC273 | Saturday | Live on ESPN+ PPV: https://t.co/KOluT7qhYi ] pic.twitter.com/49yCt2mAdU
— UFC (@ufc) April 7, 2022
But when on the feet, Holland can strike with the best of them, able to use his quick technique and arsenal of moves to drop his opponent. He’s also shown that he can hold his own on the ground, using his quality jiu-jitsu skills and 81″ reach to get the better of his opponents.
But this was against lower level competition, nowhere near the level of Chimaev. Asked if this is a better fight for his than Rodriguez at ceremonial weigh-ins Friday, Trailblazer’s response says it all.
“F*** no, but it’s gonna be a fun one,” he said, staring directly at the Swede.
I have a bit more faith in Holland, seemingly game to fight anyone should help him Saturday night. The only person to take Chimaev past the third round is former contender Gilbert Burns, taking him to a decision in April.
While the former got the unamoius decision that night, a fighter coming into a bout that overweight has to raise some concerns in terms of cardio. If the American can get his opponent into the championship rounds, he may just walk away with the biggest victory of his career, using his technical striking and stamina to get the decision.
Real gangsters make weight and that’s why I have Holland in this one.
Prediction: Holland via Unanimous Decision
Nate Diaz (21-13) v. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (26-7) Welterweight
A man that needs no introduction.
If you don’t know 209 resident Nate Diaz, honestly do you live under a rock? All kidding aside, the main event of UFC 279 is between two fighters who simply love to throw down, anytime and anywhere.
A fight both have wanted for years, Ferguson and get Diaz have the upmost respect for one another, until they get inside the cage. Once that door closes, all bets are off and a lot of blood is going to hit the canvas.
Diaz is entering the final fight on his current contract with the promotion and shows no sign of re-upping in the future, leaving him with the chance to ride into the sunset with a “W”. Preparing for Chimaev should help him going into Saturday night, as Ferguson is a much more competitive bout for the aging California wonder.
Don’t let that fool you though, El Cucuy can live up to his name at any moment, able to strike with some of the best in the world. Currently on a four-fight losing streak, Ferguson has to get the win this weekend, facing a possibly exploitation from the company although. His last fight against Michael Chandler didn’t help that, getting a front kick to the face that sent him straight to the canvas.
That may sound harsh but that’s the reality of a 38-year-old fighter clearly past his prime.
The biggest issue for Ferguson could be his stamina. Preparing for a three-round fight all camp, the Oxnard native is now facing a tougher task with 25 minutes of fight time Saturday.
This one is is hard to predict because literally anything could happen, but I expect both two try and throw bombs from the start. Okay maybe more so Diaz but both are unafraid of contact, ending almost all their fights a little worse for wear.
That’s how this one will go, a battle of respect and toughness to determine who’s the baddest dude in the Golden state.
A fight almost to close to call, I’m giving the edge to Diaz.
He’s a significant three inches taler than Ferguson which should help in the stand-up game for the Stocnkton native. Also, his grappling and jiu-jitsu is superior to his opponent, looking to take him to the ground occasionally if the fight is close.
If it makes it to championship rounds, both guys will probably be gassed, swinging wildly in hopes of landing the perfect strike. We’ve already seen Nate do this, landing a huge one on now 170-pound champ, Leon Edwards at UFC 263 last year. While Ferguson hasn’t been able to deal significant damage since 2019.
Combine that with the crowd cheering on Diaz’s farewell tour, the stars will align to give the fans what they want: One last hard-fought victory for a cult hero of the sport.
Prediction: Diaz via Fourth Round TKO
Other Fights on the Main Card:
Jingliang v. Rodriguez: Jingliang via unanimous decision
Aldana v. Chiasson: Aldana via decision
Walker v. Cutelaba: Cutelaba via second-round TKO